The best way to describe my March 2017 would be “a month of two parts.” (Did anyone catch the nod to the Kingkiller Chronicle prologues? *wink*) The first half was still stressful and discouraging like February had been, partly because I was still dealing with anxiety flare-ups. But after taking active steps to better manage my anxiety (including resuming my writing routine), and thanks to the knowledge that spring is here (YAY!), the second half of the month was more productive and meditative. Oh, and busy with final preparations for the Iceland Writers Retreat! I can’t believe it’s NEXT WEEK!! 😀
And now that I think about it, this month’s edition of What’s Making Me Happy reflects that mix of excitement, relaxation, and creativity. So let me share my March joys with you, and feel free to share yours in your comments.
I Learned Some Icelandic
With the Iceland Writers Retreat coming up, I started “teaching myself” some Icelandic. (By “teaching myself,” I mean watching YouTube videos, such as the one above, that instruct on Icelandic and reading about the alphabet, pronunciations, etc.) I’ve stuck with terms that might be important for tourists to know. It’s mostly out of curiosity, but if I have the opportunity to use some words or phrases during my trip, it will be worth a try.
If you’re not familiar with Icelandic: It’s similar to other North Germanic languages like Norwegian, Swedish, and Danish, but because of Iceland’s geographic isolation, their language evolved differently and retains the grammar and conjugations found in Old Norse. Also, many Icelandic sounds and some of its letters don’t appear in the English language. So, from that angle, Icelandic is one of the most challenging languages for native English speakers to learn. But once you grasp how certain characters or diphthongs are spoken, it starts to flow more smoothly.
So, who wants to learn some Icelandic? Here are a few basics, along with pronunciations:
- Hello: Halló (“hah-low”)
- Goodbye: Bless bless (exactly as read)
- Thank you: Takk fyrir (“tahk fih-rihr”)
- Please: Icelandic doesn’t have an equivalent to “please,” but vinsamlegast (“vihn-sahm-leh-gahst”) is the most recommended term for beginning speakers.
- What is your name?: Hvað heitir þú? (“Kvahth hey-tihr-thoo?”)
- My name is…: Ég heiti… (“Yeh hey-ti…”)
- Do you speak English?: Talarðu ensku? (“Tah-lahr-thoo ehn-skoo?”)
I’m Catching Up on “Black Sails”
How many of you are fans of Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean franchise (or, at least the first film)? Then if you aren’t watching “Black Sails” yet, you’re missing out. This swashbuckling show set during the Golden Age of Piracy serves as a prequel to Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel Treasure Island and features fictional storylines of real-life pirates such as Anne Bonny, Charles Vane, and Blackbeard. Think PotC meets Game of Thrones, minus the dragons and magic but complete with political machinations, sharp wit, and (*ahem*) mature content. So it’s not for the faint-of-heart, but if you enjoy great acting, tropical locales, and – of course – pirates, then “Black Sails” might just hoist your sails.
Thanks to OnDemand viewing, I’ve finished Season 1 of “Black Sails” and have three more to go. The only downside? The show’s fourth / current season is its last. 😦 You can catch it if you have STARZ here in the States. I wasn’t able to find whether the show is airing in other countries, though. If you also watch “Black Sails” and live outside the U.S., let me know where and how you watch it so I can add that info here.
I Started Using Aromatherapy and Essential Oils
I’d been meaning to try aromatherapy at home for a while. And then between this DIY MFA article, advice from my yoga instructor, and my recent stress and anxiety, I finally dove into the practice. So far I’ve kept it simple, using lavender oil in this nifty fan-powered diffuser when I’m writing on my computer, reading, or journaling. The results have already been wonderful: Not only does the lavender help me relax (not to mention it smells soooo pretty *big smiles*), but the strength of the fragrance that the diffuser emits is light, not overpowering.
So I’m definitely going to try more essential oils in the near future. I have some recommendations from people I know who already use aromatherapy. Plus, I bought a book on the subject (see the image above) for further study, and I might try diluting the lavender or other oils in water to make a spray mist. In the meantime, have you also tried aromatherapy? If so, which oils worked best for you?
I’m Listening to Early Cross’s Pathfinder
Funny how my writing projects can influence my music choices. Early Cross is a Japanese band I had the pleasure of reviewing (and discovering) when I was freelancing for Sonic Cathedral in 2013. I hadn’t listened to their album Pathfinder in quite some time, until a recent brainstorming / character-building session “begged” me to put Early Cross on the playlist.
Early Cross call their music “landscape rock.” I’d describe it further as a blend of progressive rock and metal with a focus on ethereal female vocals, mature songwriting, and contrasts between acoustic and electric. Some songs are dark and foreboding; others are more rhythmic or atmospheric. Or, maybe I should just quote part of my review of Pathfinder: “[The] vocals, … guitarwork, the contrasts between the organic and synthesized sounds, and the wandering yet purposeful nature of each track show just how important good songwriting and thoughtful execution can be in making music.”
For a taste of Early Cross’s music, check out the YouTube video for “Hymn to the Fallen” above. You can also visit Early Cross’s Bandcamp page to listen to an album sampler.
I’m Sipping Aloe Serenity Green Tea from Spice Merchants
I recently bought some Spice Merchant teas for a friend’s birthday gift and decided to treat myself to one as well. Aloe Serenity is a green tea blend with rose petals, inulin powder (a natural fiber found in artichokes, chicory roots, and other plant products), and aloe vera. It might sound like a weird mix, but the result is nothing short of lovely. It’s aesthetically pleasing to the eye, and the fragrance is floral, slightly fruity (pineapple is the first fruit that comes to mind, and soothing. All of these qualities are reflected in the brew, too, along with a beautiful, silky texture that’s undoubtedly from the aloe vera.
If you’re looking for a green tea that’s more delicate and not so grassy-tasting, then Aloe Serenity might be for you. Click here to visit the tea’s page on Spice Merchants’ website.
Finally, I’m on Hiatus Until Tuesday, April 18th
Since the Iceland Writers Retreat and my upcoming travels will keep me busy, I’m going to take a 2-week blogging hiatus. This means that the next post here will go live after the Easter holidays, on Tuesday, April 18th. I might have some time before and after the trip to catch up on comments, read friends’ blogs, and make the rounds on social media.
Speaking of which: I’ll also be away from social media for most of the trip, though I might sneak on to share a photo or two. So feel free to follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook if you haven’t yet. (I do have an author page on Facebook, but I’m currently taking a break from it.)
Finally, to everyone who contributed to the GoFundMe campaign: Thank you so, SO much for helping to make this trip financially in reach for me. More people submitted donations over the past few weeks, and since I’m shutting the page down tomorrow, the campaign will end with about $2564 USD raised. This covers all of the registration / hotel accommodation costs and a bit of the airfare, and I can definitely afford the rest (remaining airfare, meals, transportation to and from airports, and other incidentals). But this really wouldn’t have been possible without your support and encouragement. 🙂
Until next time, Hoppy Easter (to those who celebrate it), and have a safe and beautiful first few weeks of spring!
What were some of the things that made you happy in March?